Good morning! Today we continue down Route 66 with a stop right smack-dab in the middle of the Texas panhandle. But before we leave Oklahoma, we need to settle the matter of yesterday’s V6 sticks:
Looks like you picked cigarette burns over burnouts. Many commenters complained about the Camaro’s lack of an interior; the consensus seemed to be that stripping the interior ruined the car. Why, it’s almost as if the forty pounds or so of weight savings wasn’t worth it at all!
Anyway, let’s move on. Today we’ve got two great big V8 powered vehicles, perfect for the great big wide-open spaces around Amarillo. One is a malaise-era luxury liner in need of a little help, and the other is a big friendly workhorse with some questionable modifications. Let’s take a look at them.
1979 Chrysler New Yorker – $3,000
Engine/drivetrain: 360 cubic inch overhead valve V8, three-speed automatic, RWD
Location: Amarillo, TX
Odometer reading: 101,000 miles
In 1979, Chrysler was in serious trouble. You know the expression “it’s always darkest before dawn”? The late ’70s were dark for America’s number three automaker. Competition was stiff, sales were down, management was inept, and cash flow was nonexistent. And the cars, predictably, were utter crap. This car, the “New For 1979” R-body, was slapped together on a shoestring budget as a last-ditch effort to compete with GM’s downsized B-body cars and Ford’s newly-redesigned Panther cars. Needless to say, it didn’t work.
Build quality in Chrysler’s plants was essentially nonexistent at this point. And the technology was a series of ill-conceived Band-Aid fixes applied to 1950s technology in an attempt to squeeze just one more model year out of it. Anyone who complains about K-cars has never struggled with Chrysler’s infamous Electronic Lean Burn system, or had their Volare conk out in the middle of an intersection with a completely dead electrical system because of a faulty ammeter in the dash. Iacocca’s front-wheel-drive wonders were Camrys by comparison.
This New Yorker has, against all odds, somehow managed to remain on the road some 44 years after it wheezed its way out of the Lynch Road Assembly plant, and along the way, it has gained a fan. The seller waxes enthusiastic about this car, referring to it as “she” throughout the ad. I have a feeling there’s a bit of automotive Stockholm syndrome going on here, but hey, if they’ve been happy with it, we should be happy for them. A lot of new parts are listed, and according to the seller, the big New Yorker “hums and purrs and doesn’t give too much trouble.”
Cosmetically, it has seen better days. The interior is beat-up and dirty, and the seller says the headliner is missing. I don’t see any rust, which surprises me, but there is a big wrinkle in the right front fender.
1988 Chevrolet Suburban – $3,500
Engine/drivetrain: 383 cubic inch overhead valve V8, four-speed automatic, part-time 4WD
Location: Amarillo, TX
Odometer reading: 90,000 miles
Runs/drives? Nope, needs a fuel pump
Chevy’s Suburban has been the solution to almost every automotive problem except fuel economy and parallel parking since 1935. This big tough friendly wagon on a truck chassis can haul as much stuff or as many people as you’re likely to need, in reasonable comfort and with reasonable reliability. This 1988 model is a V1500 according to Chevy’s nomenclature; the C (2WD) and K (4WD) model names had moved to the new GMT400 chassis, but the Suburban (and Blazer) stayed on the old chassis for a few more years. That means this 4WD Suburban still has a solid front axle on leaf springs, instead of the newer independent front end of the GMT400.
This design makes it easy to lift, and this Suburban has in fact been lifted six inches, likely to accommodate the larger tires. Under the aftermarket cowl-induction hood is a “383 stroker” version of Chevy’s ubiquitous small-block V8, which pairs the 350’s 4-inch bore with a longer 3.8 inch stroke crankshaft, for greater torque. It’s a common aftermarket displacement, and crate engines in this size are widely available. I would guess that’s what this is.
The seller says this truck needs a battery and a fuel pump, which I guess means it’s not currently drivable? The ad isn’t clear on that point. They do tell us it has been equipped with 4.88 gears and locking diffs, which would indicate they had some serious off-roading in mind. (They sure weren’t thinking of fuel economy with that setup.) This truck would have originally been equipped with electronic throttle-body fuel injection, which uses an electric pump inside the tank, but I’m willing to bet that the 383 motor runs off a good old four-barrel carb, and has a mechanical fuel pump. If that’s the case, it’s two bolts, two fuel lines, and a blob of assembly grease on the pushrod to replace.
It’s rough, and has plenty of surface rust, and I bet there’s a story behind that bent front bumper. We aren’t given any photos of the interior, but judging by the rest of it, I can’t imagine it’s too pretty. The good news is that getting it running, one way or another, shouldn’t be hard.
Cheap cars aren’t easy to come by in the Texas panhandle, it seems, and interesting ones to write about are even harder to find. So that’s what we’ve got to work with: a derelict Chevy truck and a badly-made Mopar sedan. I can hear the groans and protests already, but just pick one, all right? Maybe New Mexico will have some better choices for us tomorrow.
(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)
Chrysler for sure, it looks to have been less molested. Needs a fuel pump, more like needs an engine, trans and the axles rebuilt. That poor suburban has been hill-rodded to hell and back, beat on HARD. You know that lift is a hack job/rolling death, bet the steering has a foot of play and it goes every which way but straight. The wiring harness, I can visuilize all the butt connectors, random wires peeling electrical tape. If the steering linkage doesnt fail and send u in the ditch, the wiring might catch on fire to put that poor suburban out of its misery
“just needs fuel pump”… “383”…
Despite these almost certain falsehoods, I’m taking the burban.
It doesn’t run because……it needs a fuel pump! Yeah, that’s it! I’ll take the Chrysler Bordello.
Chrysler for nostalgia, and running, yeah it’s a dilemma, both suck, but that suburban needs more than a fuel pump I’d bet!
3500 for that rusted-out suburban and it’s winning??? Are you all stoned?
What’s that got to do with it?
Give me that Suburban and a real, foldable, paper map of the U.S.A. I already have a Sunoco credit card.
I leave at dawn.
Chrysler for me. For one thing, it still has its original engine. The Suburban from that gen or that year never had a ‘383’.
And I expect the Chrysler will be much nicer to drive than that beat-to-shit heap of a suburban.
There never has been a factory 383. It’s a common stroker size for a 350. This probably does have its original engine.
To clarify, there has never been a factory 383 from Chevy.
There was a 383 from Mopar, though.
The Suburban is fixable and easily resellable. The Chrysler was shite then and more shite now.
I voted Chrysler but I am kind of amazed at how many joined me! Expected this to be a walk-on for the Suburban, rust holes and all.
Wow, these are both just sooo bad. Having to pick one, I’m inclined to choose the last-gasp Chrysler New Yorker. I just can’t pass up a running, driving, hideaway-having hooptie-yacht.
As someone who spent his entire childhood in the 3rd row of a squarebody suburban… suburban for sure. Squarebodies are up in value, parts are very plentiful, and if it’s 1988 it had the mandatory (and reliable, for it’s time) TBI setup since carbs went away on these after 86. If it lived most of it’s life in Texas the rust should be mostl surface. If someone does even a halfway decent build on the burb, it’ll turn out nice and you could probably sell it and break even…. not a chance on that chrysler.
I’d buy the Suburban, budget in a simple 350 build with an RV cam that still used the factory TBI (or other GM TBI parts) but try to keep the costs down as much as possible. Then replace what else is too worn/broken, cheap paint job or do the patina clear coat thing and call it a day. Could make a great camping rig since you can fit queen mattresses in the rear of these older models.
The Suburban. When I take it to the crusher it will weigh more and it might even have a few parts on it that will help me get some of my wasted money back.
I know Chrysler’s from the late 70s and early 80s have a really bad reputation but I have a Chrysler success story.
When I was born in 1984, my father bought a Dodge 250 Custom van for hauling our family of five and our two Huskies on long road trips. Our van was a custom build on the stretched Dodge ambulance chassis with the 5.9L V8. With more than 250,000 miles of driving under its wheels it only let us down once with a failed alternator after it was already more than 10 years old..
Whenever the weather got really cold it was the only car in our fleet of Volvos, Jeep 4.0s and a Range Rover, that would 100% of the time start. Even if it hadn’t been run in months.
It’s driven through a flood in Boston where its engine stalled, removed the plugs, vented the water and drove it home to Toronto, been driven off road, pulled trailers, pulled cars out of ditches etc. it’s seen just about everything.
39 years later we still own it. It hasn’t been run in 12 years but I bet I could get it running in a couple of hours.
The Suburban! (That lift and plain grille need to go though.)
Oh man, now I gotta tell my story about how I talked my mom out of a 1987 Chrysler New Yorker again… What’s that? This is a ’79? Oh, never mind.
Suburban alllll day
Yeah… that new yorker land yacht thing is … idk… land yachts are comfy and that’s it. There’s no use other than being comfy and getting godawful MPG. With the burban you get godawful MPG, but crazy towing/offroading abilities and enough space to make it a camper inside if you want, and on top of that, if you fully restore either of these, the burban will be worth infinitely more, as nobody wants a restored new yorker of that era.
I am walking to a bus stop.
New Yorker just needs to be junked and the Suburban is just slightly better, so I clicked suburban, but in reality I wouldn’t purchase either one. At least you could part out the suburban. Also it weighs more, so scrap for body would be better.
I believe it’s the other way around… the New Yorker deserves love. The Suburban is an old lifted POS truck with a non-original engine that deserves to be turned into scrap metal.